Today, after the City Council’s Ways & Means Committee held 83 hours of hearings covering 45 different agencies, the City Council concluded Baltimore City’s FY2023 budget hearing process, unanimously approving the City’s $4.11 billion budget ($3.32 billion operating and $793 million capital). I would like to acknowledge the hard work and partnership of my colleagues on the Ways & Means Committee and members of the City Council at-large, as well as the Administration. Over the past few months I have been adamant about my desire to reorient this budget process back towards addressing the prime concerns of our residents: restoring core city services, addressing waste at the agency level, and confronting the violent crime plaguing our streets.
During budget hearings, we were able to accomplish exactly that by:
- Compelling the Police Commissioner Harrison to request additional sworn law enforcement assistance from our federal and state law enforcement partners;
- Driving progress toward resumption of weekly curbside recycling collection through a written set of commitments with timelines to better position DPW to resume the service in the future; and
- Working toward ensuring the historical footprint of ArtScape remains in the 11th District in Bolton Hill and Mount Vernon while allowing continued expansion in Station North, through targeted cuts to BOPA’s budget.
As we continue to grapple with brazen levels of crime across the City, we all need to stay focused on our primary responsibility as elected leaders: the safety and security of families and neighborhoods. It is important to remember that ending violent crime starts in the streets with the men and women of BPD, who will continue to rebuild trust with the people of Baltimore; and ends with effective prosecutions aided by the executive agencies expected to coordinate and make available any and all resources necessary to achieve our goal of reducing crime in Baltimore. While almost every agency has some role in helping in that effort, we need those that are specifically funded for public safety to be more effective and act with a greater sense of urgency. That includes the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE) and the State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO), both of which are tasked with significant roles in the overall crime reduction plan. We can’t afford to wait for years for results – the citizens of Baltimore expect and deserve relief from the relentless level of crime.
While we all have a duty not to repeat injustices of yesterday, it’s the responsibility of this legislative body and its members to hold these entities accountable and demand answers and action when little progress seems evident.